Marhaba, my name is Yasmin and I am the Arabic tutor at VLLC Melbourne. After five years of celebrating Ramadan on my own in Australia, I was so excited to spend it this year with my family in Egypt.
Every year millions of Muslims around the world refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to sunset during the month of Ramadan. Fasting brings Muslims closer to God and reminds them of those who are less fortunate. It makes us very grateful for what we do have. By refraining from the worldly desires such as food and drink, Muslims develop and strengthen their powers of self-control and self-restraint so that they can then apply it to their everyday life to bring about self-improvement.
Although Ramadan may seem to be a hard and difficult month, it is, in fact, a very enjoyable time. Families come together and enjoy the delicious food for the breaking the fast and the pre-dawn meals. The shared experience of not eating or drinking all day unites Muslims both as a family and community in the Mosques where Muslims gather together to break their fast with other people also observing the fast that day.
Celebrating Ramadan in Egypt is a very special and unique event. Egypt has one of the oldest and richest Ramadan heritage in the whole Arab world, ranging from lights to cannons to night callers. Egyptians welcome Ramadan with the Fanoos or Ramadan lanterns. They decorate their homes with the colourful lanterns and children swing with their new glowing lanterns while singing Ramadan songs. Using the Fanoos as decorations is believed to have originated during the Fatimid Caliphate. Egyptians welcomed the arrival of Caliph Moezz Eddin Allah to Cairo in 969 during the month of Ramadan by lighting hundreds of lanterns.
Another interesting tradition of Ramadan in Egypt is the firing of the cannon. The firing of the cannon marks sunrise and sunset therefore signalling the time for beginning and ending the fast. This tradition started during the time of Khedive Mohamed Ali (1805-1848) when he ordered a number of cannons for the Egyptian army, and so it happened that one cannon was accidentally fired during sunset in Ramadan and people then thought that this was a new tradition ordered by the Khedive.
Finally, one of Ramadan’s special traditions is the Mesarahaty or drummer. Each morning during the month of Ramadan, an hour or two before dawn, drummers tour the streets, hammering out a repetitive beat to wake people up to have their pre-dawn meal. This tradition dates back to the Ottoman era when people didn’t have alarm clocks to wake them for their pre-dawn meals, drummers would walk through the streets beating their drums.
If you are planning to visit Egypt in future make sure you come during the month of Ramadan so you can enjoy the special atmosphere it has in the country.
I have been with VLLC since the middle of 2016 and chose to learn Italian because my daughter's paternal grandparents are Italian and in January 2016 we went to Italy to visit them as my daughter hadn’t seen them in 8 years. This was my first time to meet them! None of us could speak each other’s language but this didn’t get in the way of having a great time together. We used any means possible to communicate and Google translate came in pretty handy. I came away from our visit feeling that if we only had known how to speak Italian, our experience would have been so much richer and this is what motivates me to learn Italian.
I keep myself motivated by imagining talking with our Italian family without using a translation app! I have visited Italy only the once in 2016, but learning Italian has inspired me to return again, and soon. When I was in Italy, my favourite thing to do was sitting in a café and listening to the conversations around me. I also love going to the local supermarket and exploring the food and products that are used every day. I found it was a really great way to quickly learn the names of things.
As well as speaking to the Tutors at VLLC, I am going to practice Italian with the Nonni and talk to them over the phone. My advice to anyone wanting to learn a language is "Don't let your memories of high school language lessons (French in my case), put you off learning a new language".
I've been working with VLLC for almost 3 years and I love sharing stories about Italy with my students. Food is one of the things I miss the most about my home country, as you can see from these photos... I especially love a traditional Easter tart called "pastiera" (or "pastone" in some parts of Puglia), made of wheat and ricotta cheese.
During my last visit to Calabria, I have also tried some homemade "morzello" ("morzeddhu" in dialect). It is a meat soup that people eat in a special bread called "pitta", which is like a wheel shaped focaccia. Morzello used to be a peasant dish. These days it is part of the traditional Christmas Eve supper.
April is Thai month at VLLC! You might wonder, why April? The answer is that April is the month of Songkran festival, which is the Thai New Year festival. The festival usually starts on 13rd of April every year. This usually continues for a week (or more!) depending on where you are; the middle parts of Thailand tend to finish later on around the 25th.
Many people know of Songkran as a water festival, where people come out of their homes to have water fights on the streets. We use containers (e.g. a garbage can and a bowl), to hurl water at people. This helps us to stay cool in the middle of April, when the weather is hottest, and most humid. Water fights also provide a good opportunity for family members to have fun as a family. When I was a child, I remember sitting and waiting for my cousins to arrive on the first day of Songkran, and wishing Songkran could last forever! Those were the days…
There is another aspect, a spiritual aspect, to the Songkran festival. The Thai people are mostly Buddhists, and they usually take this opportunity to make merit (do good deeds) at their local Wat (temple) in the early morning on the first day of Songkran. We believe in karma, and that making merit at the beginning of the year will bring luck and happiness. After we finish at the temple, we return home to be with our family, especially our elders. Then, traditionally, they bless us, and splash a Thai perfume on us, as a symbol of good fortune. After that, it is time to enjoy food, drink, and especially water fights, in order to celebrate the rest of Songkran; the best holiday in Thailand.
This is going to be the third consecutive Songkran that I will miss. If you have a chance to visit Thailand, please consider joining in and getting wet during Songkran. You will have fun, learn about Thai culture, make many friends, and bring back many fun memories. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed. Thai month at VLLC always reminds me of the good times I had in Thailand in Songkran month.
Barramee, VLLC Thai Tutor.
My name is Aun and I am the Thai tutor in Melbourne. I have been with VLLC for a couple of months now and I love it more every day. When I teach, my student is not the only one who learns something. I learn as well and that is my motivation. We learn with each other about each other and our different cultures. When I see my students make progress and blossom in the language I feel a lot of joy.
I was born in Thailand and moved to Melbourne in 2008. Being born and raised in my home country, I received the gift of my people. Respect and kindness rule our every day (and don’t forget our cuisine!) My personal favourite is anything my mom cooks at home of course, but apart from that, I love Pad Thai and Tom Yum noodles.
In April we celebrate the New Year in Thailand. We call it “Songkran”. Everyone is equipped with water pistols and buckets full of water. That’s how we wash away the sorrows from the old year and get to start the New Year squeaky clean. That time of the year is my favourite, but there are always parties and festivals in Thailand. I actually feel like every day is a festival in Thailand.
Sometimes I miss my parents and all of my family, because we always come together and enjoy warm meals and have beautiful conversations. But, I am glad I get to pass along some of my heritage to my students, and everyone who is interested. That makes me feel like my parents aren’t actually that far away.
Bonjour! My name is Nidhi and I just completed Certificate II in Foreign Language Studies for French at VLLC. I was always fascinated by the French accent and to me it always sounded very sweet and unique. I took up French when I was still back in India at school and then continued learning at uni as a personal interest.
When I came to Australia, I got married, and started to work, and forgot all about French. Then while I was studying here, I had some time off between my semesters and decided that it would be a great time to take up something I love again. And hence it started again. I have been to Paris a long time ago and then all I could mutter was how to say my name, but now I can surely sit in a smart Paris café and order some amazing coffee and food. I will be going to South France in July 2017, that would then definitely test my skill.
My tutor was Isabelle. She was amazing, very expressive and a great teacher. All the ladies at VLLC are warm and welcoming. Thanks to everyone at VLLC who made my learning journey a smooth and animated one.
Why am I teaching Japanese? Because I am a Japanese person live in Australia? The question reflects how I love teaching Japanese to adults. Adults have a long history of work and lifestyle which often affects how they learn a language. My job teaching Japanese is also an opportunity for me to learn about Australia and its culture. Teaching and learning, parenting, and Australian education and tertiary training experiences consolidate my teaching. When I see my student’s outcomes, that is most satisfactory from a job perspective, the feeling is not so different from when I see my child's outcomes. When my students say “arigato gozaimashita” after each lesson, that gives me my next lesson's motivation.
Since I started teaching Japanese at VLLC I have met so many people who are interested in Japanese culture and language. This setting is my privilege and I have learned many different things through Japanese teaching. Firstly, I have learnt how students learn Japanese language, particularly in a western fashion, it is not only translation between two languages, it relates to situations and culture and I have found all students love learning with joy. So how to make learning joyful for adult learners? Imagination creates our fun role plays, acting on each other, including kinaesthetic learning, word games with pictures and Japanese characters can be quickly impressed on the brain.
During my 10 years teaching Japanese at VLLC, I have learnt relations between a person's satisfactory and achieved language goals constantly drive student learning motivation. VLLC's program divides the different Japanese writing scripts to learn – starting with romaji (romanized phonetic reading) then hiragana, katakana and kanji and this setting and level division makes it easy to start and logically understand for all students. Most of my students continue to learn because they can feel step by step and those learning steps are finalized in individual language achievements.
I appreciate the Japanese language curriculum in Australia. Some of my adult Japanese students have learnt Japanese language in their primary and secondary education. And a majority of those students still remember what they learnt and found that coming back to them, and those fun learning experiences stimulate their adult brains once again. The grammar never changes and it is such boring practice to learn patterns yet for adult students we need to find our individual learning style and pace, find one's short and long term achievements oneself and to look forward to improvement through language learning.
Australia has been ranked in the top three Japanese learning countries in the world over 20 years – China, Korea and Australia!! That high language demand is one of the motivations for me to teach Japanese for adult students and I love to hear their language journey goals in many different ways.
I conclude that my Japanese teaching experience in Australia identifies student's individual life goals, as a fun hobby or lifelong learning. I personally take this opportunity to teach Japanese for adults and it is an honor to have such a career. We know that learning a different language gives the brain stimulation which can prevent dementia. The practice can start at any age. Moreover, my current Japanese students are looking forward to opportunities with their future work relating to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Why don't you start and make such big opportunities for yourself and learn Japanese with VLLC!
My name is Yoko and I am one of the Japanese tutors in Melbourne. I have worked with VLLC for over 10 years now. I didn’t realise that time has passed so quickly!
My motivation to teach Japanese is simple, yet inspiring. Japanese is a beautiful language created on an isolated island with a unique history. I enjoy sharing the joy of communication in my mother tongue with my students, while being able to respect and understand each other’s culture.
I was born in Japan and lived there for the first 35 years of my life. Living in Tokyo, Saitama, Tohoku area was absolutely mesmerizing. Japan is a rather small country, but every area has various scenery and custom. When I think of Japan, I think of temples that are over a thousand years old or shrines behind skyscrapers. What also comes to my mind is the “Kawaii”. The traditional, cute goods based on Japan’s purifying, minimizing method. Also old and new culture coexist peacefully which brings joy to my heart.
My absolute favourite time of the year is the “Hanami” (Flower Viewing). It’s when the cherry blossoms open up all over the country. People are delighted by “Sakura”, which magnifies the end of a cold, dark winter. Every year, special weather forecasts for “Sakura” excite people.
Sushi, being one of the most famous Japanese foods abroad, is also one of my favourites. “Omusubi” are yummy rice balls and a handy food in Japan. Simple “ume” (plum) “omusubi” are my absolute favourite. I also love “sansei” (edible wild plants), which are only available in a particular season.
Japan has a huge population of 130 million people in such a small country. Yet it is rather clean and organized everywhere. Even crowded stations in Tokyo seem so clean and quiet. Not always, but sometimes I miss Japanese public space’s comfortableness. It seems as if people are always prepared to welcome visitors.
My name is Bryan and I have been learning Mandarin Chinese with VLLC over the last 3 years. My wife is Chinese and I want to be able to speak the language to communicate with the family. The biggest motivator for me with learning Chinese is the regular tutorials I have with VLLC.
We seem to visit China every 12 to 18 months. Our favourite thing to do in China is eat the food! My wife is from Lanzhou so beef noodle soup and cumin mutton skewers are the first and last thing we eat.
Here are some stories about VLLC' students and why they are learning a language